Textbook of Ayurveda Hardcover – Nov 2000
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Top Customer Reviews
Great book for anyone who would like to learn or study more about this amazing field of holistic medicine.
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Dr.Vasant Lad is in the forefront of Vaidyas (ayurvedic practitioners) who have made ayurvedic education available to the West. He started teaching ayurveda in the USA in 1980, and has produced many prominent writers and educators on the subject. His previous books include the popular Ayurveda; The Science of Self-Healing; and The Yoga of Herbs, co-written with Dr. David Frawley, a groundbreaking book introducing the concepts of ayurvedic herbology to the western public.
This Textbook of Ayurveda comes as more in-depth ayurvedic education programmes develop in the West. It contains the necessary foundation for the understanding of a medical model far removed from the western allopathic paradigm. To understand and practise ayurveda, one literally needs to adopt, to immerse oneself in, a completely different perspective. Dr.Lad's book contains chapters on the Six Philosophies which underpin ayurveda, from the unthinkably ancient Sankhya philosophy of creation, which also forms the basis of Buddhism and some aspects of Yoga; to the Nyaya science of logic; to Yoga itself, the profound science of psychology and human potential.
Then we explore the system of 20 qualities of nature; the five elements; the three humours (Doshas) and their 15 subtypes; the concept of Agni or Digestive Fire; the Dhatus or body tissues; the Srotas or body channels; Ojas, Tejas, and Prana or the subtle humours; and Digestion and Nutrition. Each aspect is explained and related back to western anatomy, physiology and pathology. The important connection is also made between each aspect and the mind, which in ayurveda is considered a distinct but interdependent part of the body. There are copious appendices and tables on the various systems, ayurvedic properties of food, and other useful information.
A notable feature is the high quality of production. This is refreshing - and I would say necessary, if ayurvedic education is to be taken seriously by mainstream medicine. To be frank, I am fed up of poorly written, edited, designed and produced books from India. Even so-called textbooks are appallingly arranged, sometimes with no indexes or useful means of finding information. This book is clearly illustrated with line drawings, attractively designed, and printed on good paper. Two of the book's editors are ayurveda and Sanskrt instructors in New Zealand. If such talents were used more often in the editing and production of ayurvedic books, the credibility and reputation of ayurvedic education and publications would no doubt increase.
But does the book really deliver the goods? In my opinion, a lot of the correlations with western anatomy and physiology are speculative, and Dr.Lad should admit they are so. A lot of the material, while interesting, is simply not standard ayurvedic training, traditional or otherwise - and therefore misleading. If, instead of trying to pass off these wishy-washy correlations, Dr.Lad had worked on better translating and elucidating the traditional texts and principles, I believe the book would have more usefully served the growing interest in ayurveda as a clinical medical system. I feel that, while the book is insufficiently academic and credible for serious students of ayurveda, it still serves as a good introduction for the intelligent western reader.
Dr. Vasant Lad is a world-renowned ayurvedic physician, born and educated in India, with more than forty years of clinical experience. He is one of the world's leading teachers and scholars of ayurveda, and served as professor of clinical medicine at the University of Pune College of Ayurvedic Medicine & Surgery as well as director of its affiliated hospital. Currently, he is president of and a senior faculty member at the Ayurvedic Institute, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Vasant Lad is the author of several professional texts and popular works on ayurveda and has written countless articles on the subject.
There have been many textbooks published for intending practitioners of ayurveda, but until now nearly all of these have been in Sanskrit or more frequently Hindi or one of India's regional languages. Lacking facility in one or more of these, the English speaking student was left with one of two relatively time-consuming and unsatisfactory alternatives: consulting English-language translations of ayurveda's classics (i.e., the Sushruta and Charaka compendiums and the Astanga Hridaya, inter alia, a prospect unwieldy to say the least given the host of ancient therapies no longer in existence in today's world and the often untranslatable proper names of conditions and medicines) or compiling and correlating information from popular works on the subject and online sources.
Dr. Vasant Lad's "Textbook of Ayurveda: Fundamental Principles" has resolved this daunting task for the professional student of ayurveda and provided in one well-organized, well-written and very clear English-language volume all salient aspects of the philosophical and scientific foundation that ayurveda stands upon: from the metaphysical underpinnings to the foundations of ayurvedic anatomy and physiology.
The book is arranged into ten sections covering, respectively the shad darshan (the metaphysical assumptions underlying ayurveda); the elements, gunas (qualities of matter) and the tridoshic theory; dosha subtypes and their locations and functions; agni (degistive processes) the sapta dhatus (seven tissue types); srotamsi (channels or meridians), ojas, tejas, and prana (subtle forms of the doshas), digestion and nutrition and swasthavritti (ayurvedic concepts of healthy lifestyles and regimens). The flow of instructional material in the book is superlatively well-organized, with the information provided in one section providing a knowledge base for the effective study of material provided in subsequent sections.
With the coming of ayurveda to the West, there has emerged a great need for a foundation-level textbook that not only caters to Western learning styles but that also forges a link between ayurveda's conceptions of anatomy and physiology and those of Western biomedicine. It contains the necessary foundation for the understanding of a paradigm of health and disease far removed from the Western one, going far beyond the level of detail and sophistication than that encountered in works published for the interested lay public.
The appearance of this valuable work by Dr. Lad is synchronous with the creation of more and higher quality, academically rigorous programs of instruction and training in ayurveda outside of the country of its birth. Dr. Lad has written what I believe will become the definitive textbook of ayurveda for English-speaking and reading students in the West, and is due an enormous debt of thanks by the ayurvedic profession and by the public in general. I heartily and unhesitatingly recommend this work as a necessity for all aspiring practitioners of ayurveda. It will also be of use to health professionals schooled in Western biomedical concepts who wish to achieve a degree of familiarity with ayurvedic concepts.
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